Not only has suicide been overlooked as a major health issue, the underlying cause in the majority of cases, depression, is not only overlooked but also has such negative stigmas attached to it. Due to these stigmas people suffering from depression often feel they cannot speak of it or talk to anyone (which becomes an additional burden for them to bear) or because the often well meant, but misguided or ineffective advice that the listener offers does not provide the needed support.
Steve' advice of offering the hand of social friendship and seeing our pastors as people and not just as pastors would be of great help, not only to pastors but to all others. In addition, we need to remove the social stigma regarding depression so that people in need will be as willing to seek treatment and as for support as would a person with a toothache, migraine or other physical ailment. Here are some current statistics regarding suicide and depression:
Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years in the United States,
Over 60 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression.
Depression affects nearly 10 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year, or more than 24 million people.
More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease (17 million), cancer (12 million) and HIV/AIDS (1 million).
Studies indicate that the best way to prevent suicide is through early recognition and treatment of depression and other psychiatric illnesses. Each of us could make a significant impact in helping this prevention by becoming more aware of the symptoms of depression and being willing to be responsive, active and diligent in our support of someone suffering form depression. I can guarantee, that whether we recognize it or not, each of us knows at least one person who is depressed and in need of our care and active support.